The Chinese invented the cooking technique of "chao" or quick stir-fry centuries ago. Every one of us has enjoyed a fried rice, or vegetable (beef and broccoli) stir-fry, but this technique is so much more. The idea is that a very hot heat, will sizzle the proteins and help meld the flavors with the vegetables. It is a very rapid technique, full of action, but most stir-fried dishes take less than 5 minutes to make.
This is a really quick dish to make as well. Cabbage, mostly thought of as a boring vegetable, is peppered with lots of dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorns, it is spicy, tongue-numbing and spectacular. The quick seared sweet cabbage flavors are contrasted with the spicy peppers and a tinge tart with the vinegar. I did enjoy this dish a lot.
This wonderful bible on Sichuan cooking is a must have on every bookshelf. The recipes range from the simple, like this one, to the more complex and involved. This is a book I am slowly getting into, lots of unique and fun recipes to try.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
3-4 tablespoons oil
10-15 dried red chilies, I use Kashmiri chilies but you can substitute any spicy dried chili
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 lb cabbage, Napa, Savoy or regular cabbage, cut into thin bite sized pieces keeping the stems
Salt, to taste
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 Chinking vinegar or Chinese cooking vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Combine the salt, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wide pan or a wok. Add the chilies and the Sichuan peppercorns and sauté for 20 seconds till the oil is flavored and the chilies turn a shade darker. Careful the chilies burn very easily. Add the cabbage and toss well so the chilies do not burn. Turn the heat up to medium.
When the cabbage is just about beginning to get wilted, add the soy sauce mix and cook till the sauce has evaporated and coated the cabbage evenly. You want the cabbage to still be crunchy and not soft and mushy and cooked to death.
Serve immediately for best results, or it can be heat again later.